Arthur Mitchell to receive top Black Theater Alliance award

Danseur Arthur Mitchell skyrocketed into critical acclaim as the most significant artist in classical dance. He ultimately created one of the esteemed international companies in the nation as founder and artistic director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. V

Danseur Arthur Mitchell skyrocketed into critical acclaim as the most significant artist in classical dance. He ultimately created one of the esteemed international companies in the nation as founder and artistic director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Vincent Williams, founder and president of the Black Theater Alliance Awards, said, “I am delighted that the Black Theater Alliance Award Board has chosen Arthur Mitchell as our prominent honoree for the 14th Annual Ira Aldridge Awards.”

A native of New York City, Mitchell was born March 27, 1934. It was in New York City of Performing Arts that he began training, and he became the first male student to win the coveted Annual Dance Award.

After earning his high school diploma, he was awarded a full scholarship to the School of American Ballet, and in 1955 became the first Black male to be appointed by George Balanchine to the professional company.

When the lithe young Mitchell danced the pas de deux in Agon that was created for him by Balanchine, he scored immediate critical acclaim, and dance critics through the first 15,000 mile tour of Europe unanimously agreed that he was a superior dancer.

In those early years, Mitchell performed on tour with the American Ballet throughout Europe and the Middle East. He performed at Covent Garden in London, the La Scala in Milan, the Parish Opera, and in major cities from Athens to Tel Aviv.

Other dances in which he appeared included Western Symphony, Allegro Brilliante, Orpheus, A Midsummer Nite’s Dream, Bakuko, Romeo and Juliet, and the Moor.

In 1966, Mitchell was requested to organize The American Negro Dance Company, which represented the United States at the first World Festival of Negro Arts in Senegal.

In the 1967, at the request of the United States International Association, he established the National Ballet Company of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.

After learning of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, Mitchell established the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

With Karel Shook and the financial support of Mrs. Alva B. Gimbel and the Ford Foundation, the organization has been able to thrive.

Mitchell has developed the company into a school of allied arts and a multicultural institution that attracts thousands of professional dancers and students.

In addition to his directing, teaching and touring with the company, he continues to choreograph ballets including South African Suite, Lucy, Manifestations, Bach Passacaglia, Porgy and Bess, for the Metropolitan Opera, Rhythmetron, Tones, John Henry, Spiritual Suite and Fete Noire.

The awards ceremony is September 29 in the Moulin Rouge Salon of the Fairmont Hotel, 200 N. Columbus Drive.

The reception will begin at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7:30 p.m. and the program at 8:30 p.m.

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